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Ford Slammed With $1.7B Verdict In Truck Crash; Plans Appeal

Following a years-long trial that resulted from a 2014 truck crash, the jury has awarded the plaintiffs $1.7 billion. They made a claim that a weak roof on a 2002 Ford F-150 Super Duty contributed to the deaths of their parents in the crash. Ford, which disputes the award, plans an appeal.


The Ford Motor Co. will appeal last week's award of $1.7 billion in a truck crash that claimed two lives in 2014. The verdict came in a crash involving a Super Duty model that claimed the lives of a Georgia couple.

Suit Brought By Children

The verdict came in the case brought by the deceased couple's children, who sued after their parents were killed in a rollover crash.

In their suit, the children claimed that a "weak and defective roof on their parents' 2002 Ford F-250 directly contributed to their deaths," an Associated Press (AP) report said.

The legal team submitted evidence for the plaintiffs that "similar defective roofs were responsible for injury or death in around 80 other cases," the AP continued.

Gerald Davidson, an attorney with the legal team from Butler Prather, said emphatically that "more deaths and severe injuries are certain because millions of these trucks are on the road."

Lawyers Sees It As Warning

Another member of the plaintiff's legal team, James Butler Jr., added that:
"An award of punitive damages [will] hopefully warn people riding around in the millions of those trucks Ford sold was the reason the family insisted on a verdict."

Ford's lawyer William Withrow Jr. said in response during a court session that the company was set on defending itself against accusations that "its engineers acted willfully and wantonly, with a conscious indifference for the safety of the people who ride in their cars when they made these decisions about roof strength," a court transcript said.

"That's not true, and we wanted a chance to put our case to you, and you've patiently listened to it. And we don't think that they've made that case in their presentation," Withrow added.

Ford Doubts Evidence Support Verdict

Yahoo Auto News, quoting a spokesperson for Ford who talked with People today, said, "While our sympathies go out to the Hill family, we don't believe the evidence supports the verdict, and we plan to appeal. In the meantime, we aren't going to litigate this matter through the news media."

According to a press release from Butler Prather, the crash was partly influenced by the actions of the Pep Boys automotive service chain. According to the press release, the chain "mistakenly installed the wrong size or 'load range' tires on the Hills' truck in 2010."

Indeed, the law firm said about 30 percent of the blame for the crash was the responsibility of Pep Boys. The firm alleged that "that mistake caused the right front tire to blow out, causing the wreck."

Believed Cause Of Wreck

Another outlet that commented on the press release, NBC News, said that according to evidence presented in court, the "wreck was survivable … the press release noted that the crushed "roof caused the injuries that lead to the deaths" in the crash.

Butler said yesterday that he "used to buy Ford trucks." He was quoted in multiple outlets, including ABC News, that he "thought nobody would sell a truck with a roof this weak. The damn thing is useless in a wreck," he added. "You might as well drive a convertible."

Marc Stern has been an automotive writer since 1971 when an otherwise normal news editor said, "You're our new car editor," and dumped about 27 pounds of auto stuff on my desk. I was in heaven as I have been a gearhead from my early days. As a teen, I spent the usual number of misspent hours hanging out at gas stations Shell and Texaco (a big thing in my youth) and working on cars. From there on, it was a straight line to my first column for the paper, "You Auto Know," an enterprise I handled faithfully for 32 years. Not many people know that I also handled computer documentation for a good part of my living while writing YAN. My best writing, though, was always in cars. My work has appeared in Popular Mechanics, Mechanix Illustrated, AutoWeek, SuperStock, Trailer Life, Old Cars Weekly, Special Interest Autos, etc. You can follow me on: Twitter or Facebook.